"When you are thirsty, in that way that hollows you like a cave, it is important to know friends who will take you on autumn motorcycle rides to hidden springs, and hand you the little aluminum ladle in the ferns and tell you drink, and show you the secret trail up to the top of the mountain where the church at the top of the world is. There were huge wooden doors, with a block at the bottom reading, "Always open. Move block to open door." ~ Mary Ellen lough
9.11.17 Natalie speaks
We met under cover of dark on a mountain, owned by a man who could hear arrowheads beneath his bare feet while he walked. Or we met in napkins. Yes, we met in napkins in a bar in a lonely far away bar where only sad people think to drink and we were there to serve our own sadness I think and watch each other’s hands folding white napkins in the half dark, wing over wing over wing. O, but really, we met in the singing Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound. We weren’t folding the napkins with our hands.
Perhaps we just met today, you leaping, newly shorn head and summer legs akimbo, (as if seasons could be so easily shushed aside)
Surely we met on the shore, while a baby left my body, and you spell-deep, harnessing the latent kinetic energy inside every wave on the beach, every molecule of sun, every pre-sand fleck of seashell to lift, from the fishwife scales of your life, a sudden Don Juan. A zero balance is not a compass rose.
We meet in the naming. You called the baby mermaid, or mer-darling. Our oldest and youngest girls, step into their next seasons with the motion of their original myths intact. Baby’s gone to kindergarten and Persephone births in the fall. I gave my first daughter the name of the goddess who brought us the seasons. You gave your last daughter a name she didn’t need for years and years, preferring to be a space of existence, called only “baby”
Sometimes I call you “poet” or “scary beautiful flame.” We eat ham kraut on a rug by candle light. And for a moment, we pay our names as tribute to the laughing. Candlelight moves across the season of your beautiful face.
9.11.17 Mary Ellen speaks
It was several months back you told me that you were going to be a grandmother,
though this is the month that I turn 40 six months before you.
And the baby is only a couple of moons from arrival.
I was riding on the back of your motorcycle.
I can’t remember now how many poems we have quoted
to each other -- or to wind --
each of our voices rising to meet not the noise
but the exuberance. Any excuse to be louder and more
boisterous will do - roar of motorcycle engine,
and the early September air just enough chill.
This summer I read that we are formed in our grandmother’s wombs.
That the egg of us was formed in our mother’s womb
when she was forming in our grandmother’s wombs -
and that means how many of our memories belong to her?
What does that mean for this baby, that you decided on 20 years ago,
as a teenager mother. When you chose your daughter,
your mother asking - what if you could have it all -
What if you could be everything you wanted to be +and+ have this baby.
Would you keep her? And you did.
as unbeknowst to you, she carried this grandson inside you then.
You can say grandmother now, but there is something about how we have always
been what we are now.
But I did not come to you to tell you that.
I came to you because I was thirsty,
Because I needed a new well to drink from,
and you always show me where it is, like you were just waiting for me to ask.
And you drove me up the dirt road to a small spring coming from a rock,
With a metal ladle hidden among the ferns.
You said, “drink this, then we climb.”
We climbed until we couldn’t breathe
and my legs ached, and the mountains - I had never seen them so violet.
Until there it was - the church on top of the world
with a block in front of the door reading,
“Always open. Remove block to open door.”
And we did.
Later, filling my water jugs by the roadside spring,
wild herbs growing fragrant around the tiny cave,
you were walking away,
and all I remember is your voice saying,
And the cool clear water pouring from the rock.